It is often in the moments when one slows down and sits quietly that we are rewarded with unique, unusual and unexpected sightings that are slightly out of the ordinary. A little while ago, when we presumed that the Plaque Rock Female still had cubs, I was sitting at one of the dens she had been using hoping that she would return or maybe I would get a glimpse of one of the cubs.
However, I wasn’t that lucky but in fact, was actually treated to something else that was equally enjoyable and definitely a first for me. I heard a little rustle in the grass near the den and immediately got excited that it may be one of the cubs. Cameras at the ready, I patiently waited to see the endearing little furry face of a leopard cub, only to be greeted by another somewhat less adorable but nevertheless still pleasant face of a sneaky slender mongoose.
So a little back story to the slender mongoose, in order to give this blog a little more context. Slender mongooses are predominantly solitary little creatures that slink around hoping to go unnoticed. Often seen darting across the road and into the thick brush never to be seen again. Their secretive nature is not necessarily only when a vehicle is present, this can be seen and confirmed when looking at the tracks of the slender mongoose. Now I am sure you are wondering how on earth are we able to tell they are secretive by the tracks.
In short, when we see tracks of them on the road, there is often only evidence of one individual. The tracks turn onto the road and then hug the edge of the road sticking close to the long grass or vegetation that skirts the wheel tracks. Not wanting to venture out into the open as they feel vulnerable and are exposed to danger with very little else to help them keep a look out for any lurking threats.
Ok, so back to the story. The mongoose then cautiously snuck up to the entrance of the den in the boulder, where I had seen the cubs emerge from during a previous sighting of them. While sniffing around the entrance the mongoose paid very little attention to me sitting in the vehicle less than a stone’s throw away. After a casual investigation of the den, the mongoose disappeared into the grass and I thought that was the end of it.
The next thing, the little guy popped up less than five metres from the vehicle, sniffing around the base of a tree before climbing into one of the lower limbs where it paused for a few seconds, where I thought maybe it might realise just how exposed it was and dart off into the grass. I was wrong, it seemed as though it was perfectly happy to be where it was.
Descending the tree, the mongoose then kept strolling toward the vehicle in amongst the relatively long grass. I guess the grass may have given it the confidence that should it need to scamper into the safety of a closeby bush, hole or crevice it could.
With no one else around it was just me and this really awesome little slender mongoose cruising around as though I was not there.